Overhang Party - "4" (Pataphysique 1998, DD-007)
From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)
This avant psych-noise trio is a new discovery for me, though I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the Japanese 'sound.' I'm all for the "stream-of-consciousness" (think Göttsching) guitar jamming that they so often feature, though the general deficiency in the lower registers is not something I usually prefer. On record, Overhang Party sounds more balanced as well as more restrained certainly.
The seven tunes on 'OP 4' comprise about an hour's worth of both vocal tunes and sound experiments. "Kizashi" is an interesting study of repeating patterns (I hesitate to call it 'drone' music, as it has a far different feel compared to US drone artists), which is readressed later in "Barcelona." The application of bouncy bass (such as it is, given the band has no actual bass player) and percussion is what gives their drones a unique character. "Le Few Follet," on the other hand, sounds like ballroom music from the WWII era (our side). Here, bandleader/guitarist Rinji Fukuoka shows off some of his other abilities with a pleasant violin melody during the "bridge." "Then the Ship was Sunk" is a very peculiar piece of majestic Highlander (or Celtic) music, with Fukuoka's guitar coming across more like bagpipes. Later on though, the pace picks up and OP charge into an excellent blanga-style jam colored by more violin soloing. "Mirror" is another layered march-like tune with duet vocals that works well, and shows off Fukuoka's nimble fretwork. The finale, "G House Blues" is pure, unadulterated noise... 12 minutes of very bright and dissonant buzz-guitar and crazed violin. Yikes!
I feel that over time I will learn to appreciate this work more for all its idiosyncrasies and noisiness. Fukuoka has a very ordinary singing voice (albeit in Japanese), though I find myself drawn more to it with each listen. I think that those into the more avant garde krautrock, i.e., Amon Düül II and Faust (of course), should catch on to what they're trying to do here. If you're more the 'traditional' space-rocker, well maybe you'd just think they're a little strange. And why not?
For more information you can email Overhang Part at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson